How Bill Belichick Factored Into Wild Brian Flores-Dolphins Saga

Always double-check your texts


December 30, 2022

If it weren’t for Bill Belichick, Brian Flores might not have become an NFL head coach.

However, Belichick also might’ve been the reason Flores wasn’t a head coach in 2022.

In 2004, a 23-year-old Flores joined the New England Patriots as a scouting assistant. He worked his way up over the next 14 years, serving in a variety of scouting and coaching roles under Belichick. The peak of Flores’ Patriots career occurred in 2018, when he worked as a linebackers coach and defensive play-caller, helping lead New England to a defense-first victory in Super Bowl LIII.

Flores joined the Miami Dolphins the ensuing offseason, after which things got very interesting.

On the field, Flores enjoyed great success against his former boss. After suffering a 43-0 loss in his first matchup against the Patriots, Flores led Miami to victories in four of its next five games against New England. Honestly, Flores’ Dolphins owned Belichick’s Patriots over the three-year stretch.

But everything changed last offseason, with all the drama occurring off the field.

The Dolphins surprised many around the NFL when they fired Flores on Jan. 10. How could Flores, who led an inferior roster to a 24-25 record in three seasons, wind up without a job? And surely Flores would land on his feet in short order and land another NFL head coaching gig, right?

The answers to those questions were provided by last offseason’s biggest NFL scandal, in which Belichick played a key role.

On Feb. 1, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and its 32 teams, alleging various forms of racial discrimination, including in the hiring process. The lawsuit contained many interesting aspects, but allegations involving two franchises gained the most notoriety.

Flores accused Dolphins owner Stephen Ross of offering financial incentives to intentionally lose games and, when he declined, smeared him before eventually terminating his contract. Basically, Flores claimed Ross wanted to pay him to tank and fired him for not going with it — but not before painting him as “non-compliant and difficult to work with.”

He also accused the New York Giants of conducting a “sham” head-coaching interview shortly afterward, which he only became aware of thanks to text messages inadvertently sent by Belichick. According to Flores, the Giants only interviewed him to satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and front office vacancies.

In the lawsuit, Flores claimed that, by the time he interviewed with the Giants, they already had decided to hire Brian Daboll as their next head coach. Flores included alleged text messages sent by Belichick, who mistakenly messaged Flores thinking he was texting Daboll — another former Patriots assistant — to congratulate him on getting the job.

Here’s the exchange:

Belichick: “Sounds like you have landed — Congrats!!

Flores: “Did you hear something I didn’t hear?”

Belichick: “Giants?!?!?!”

Flores: “I interview on Thursday. I think I have a shot at it.”

Belichick: “Got it. I hear from Buffalo and NYG that you are their guy. Hope it works out if you want it to!!”

Flores: “That’s definitely what I want! I hope you’re right coach. Thank you.”

Flores: “Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll. Just making sure.”

Belichick: “Sorry — I f—ed this up. I double-checked & misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB.”

Flores: “Thanks Bill.”

In the days after the lawsuit went public, Flores said mostly positive things about Belichick while also revealing he didn’t give his former boss a heads-up about the lawsuit or the inclusion of the texts.

However, Flores later said he believed Belichick influenced the Giants’ decision to hire Daboll.

Predictably, Belichick refused to comment on the situation and the Giants and Dolphins both denied all allegations. And, though the NFL last August suspended Ross and stripped the Dolphins of two draft picks over the tanking allegations, the lawsuit remained unsettled as of Dec. 30, the time of this writing.

As for Flores, he didn’t go jobless in the NFL for as long as some feared he would. The Pittsburgh Steelers in late February hired him as linebackers coach and senior defensive assistant.

Belichick went the rest of the year without publicly commenting on the situation.

Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images
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